Book Review: Dan Baum’s Gun Guys; A Road Trip

And there you have it: one of the best last lines in movie history and how I feel about Dan Baum. He’s not perfect. Not by a long chalk. The former New Yorker writer is one of those “reasonable restrictions” commentators who can’t—or won’t—connect the dots between gun control laws and the loss of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As the “gun guy liberals can love,” Baum is a profound threat to our firearms freedom. He’s the Neville Chamberlain of gun rights. And yet . . .

Baum is also one of the greatest writers of our time. His command of the English language is absolute. He has an astounding eye for detail and total mastery of pacing. In that sense, Gun Guys is wonderfully cinematic. Reading the book is not unlike watching a [good] Woody Allen movie, with Baum as the nebbish and the gun guys as “normal” people who seem extreme by comparison.

In the great Allen tradition, it’s a love hate deal. We’ve run excerpts that illustrate Baum’s extraordinary ability to grok and mock his firearms friends at the same time (click here and here). Not to coin a phrase, it’s all fun and games until someone puts an eye out.

The gun guy encounters at the book’s core inspire Baum to bouts of firearms-related navel gazing that invite political interpretation. These passages don’t speak well of his understanding of, and thus commitment to, the cause of firearms freedom. Here’s a passage that illuminates Baum’s perspective . . .

For the most part, we love those guys. They’re the ones we make movies about. And one can’t drive fifty feet without seeing a bumper sticker urging us to SUPPORT OUR TROOPS. What I’d discovered during my gun-guy walkabout was that warriors walk among us, on our own soil and out of uniform. Not every gun guy was a warrior. Not every person who obtained a concealed carry permit was necessarily a warrior. But while I met relatively few of the six million Americans who’d done so, every one I encountered was serious about the undertaking. They’d decided, on some level. to be one of society’s warriors. The question for me, after Las Vegas, was whether it was a role I wanted to play.

No. No it isn’t. Dan is uncomfortable assuming the inherent individual responsibility tied to concealed carry.

More importantly, the author doesn’t like the idea of that responsibility. Adopting it would separate Baum from his liberal peeps: champagne socialists who share his belief that Big Government is a good thing, not a bad thing. That people must be protected from themselves, for their own good.

It’s a sentiment that’s gained ground amongst the chattering classes in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook slaughter. Alfred A. Knopf’s homies published Gun Guys immediately after the spree killing. While the timing has given Baum virtually unlimited access to the left-leaning mainstream media, it also rendered the book instantly obsolete.

Well, not the book itself. Again, Baum’s writing will speak to discerning readers throughout the ages. But his perspective on the gun guys in Gun Guys now looks, well, churlish.

Clearly, Baum detests gun guys’ “paranoia” about government gun grabbing. Clearly, these “extremists” were right and he was wrong. A fact which Baum still refuses to acknowledge. He continues to view his interviewees like the U.S. government viewed the “pre-mature anti-fascists” who fought Franco’s regime.

In a post-Sandy Hook postscript, Baum doubles down. He argues for safe storage laws, mandatory training for concealed carry permits and “universal background checks” (a.k.a., federal gun registration). He makes only the slightest of nods to the slippery slope argument against these measures. ”None of these ideas are perfect,” Baum writes, playing the “voice of reason” card to gun guys and gun control advocates alike.

Baum ends Gun Guys by agreeing with President Obama’s assessment that there’s something wrong with American culture [that led to Sandy Hook] and echoes the gun grabbers’ sentiment that “something must be done.”

Not good enough. Not only does the conclusion contradict the excerpt above, it opens the door to any number of abuses. Being a “moderate” on guns doesn’t mean what Baum and his left-leaning pals thinks it means.

Even so, I recommend Gun Guys. It’s one of the best-written books about firearms enthusiasts I’ve ever read. To shun Gun Guys simply because its author fails to understand the true meaning of his subject would to be miss out on some wonderful literature. Gun Guys is a great, if ultimately frustrating, read.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

64 Responses to Book Review: Dan Baum’s Gun Guys; A Road Trip

  1. avatarRalph says:

    Baum will become one of this country’s most potent voices for firearms freedom

    Sure. Right about the same time that I win an Olympic medal in water polo. Being the “liberal gun guy” is nothing more than Dan’s gimmick, his schtick. He’s more than good enough not to need a gimmick, but having one probably pays better.

  2. avatarLC Judas says:

    I will likely read the book. By any expectation if what I’ve seen and heard it will be interesting but ultimately anyone who can blame the presence of inanimate objects in a society to the wanton deaths of people killed by various madmen and scapegoat such an idea as these objects beget such men I will be very likely unimpressed. Not because he doesn’t cover the idea of the warrior tradition or respect the concept. Because it appears to be why you believe the book is a good read and is likely its only saving grace. No, the reason the book ultimately is not helping is simple.

    It does not show the necessity of the warrior class as a part of the public. Electing to be a warrior is a right. Not a privilege, not something you do on the weekends when you rent a gun and put a few holes in morally approved paper targets.

    It is a right to life that you can fight for it. If he truly wants to portray us, he needs to portray why we exist not only that we exist and confound others not like us. Portraying us as extremists, unbalanced or making light of what drives so many People of the Gun is not a well meant joke. It is demeaning. If his foray into our world only can teach him how to more accurately point fingers he must own no mirrors. Otherwise if he possesses a single reflective surface in his home he shouldn’t own a gun, by the very implications and statements of what that is supposed to mean in his own words.

  3. avatarRab says:

    ” its author fails to understand the true meaning of his subject”: Sounds like the perfect reason not to read it

  4. Now all I can think about is Some Like It Hot …

  5. avatarLeo38 says:

    I don’t care if this book is recommended, I will not spend a penny that may go to this guy. However, I may hit up the torrent sites, download it and distribute it to anyone else who wants to read it for free.

    • avatarGregolas says:

      I’d like to read it to since Farago says it’s a good read, but I won’t pay for it. I don’t like to fund gun-grabbers if I can help it. I will wait a year or so until it turns up at the local “Friends of the Library” donated bookstore, and buy it from them for two dollars.

  6. avatarAnmut says:

    Robert –

    With all due respect, this guy is a liberal gun grabber that “tried to understand gun nuts” but in the end concluded that something still has to be done about continued civil disarmament.

    This guy doesn’t deserve a dime of anyone’s money for this piece of trash and doesn’t deserve the electrons it takes to post your review on TTAG.

  7. avataranonymous says:

    I suppose I should be shocked by the negative reaction and vitriol that any mention of Dan Baum on this site generates.

    I don’t agree with everything he says — especially his policy recommendations, which seem more like an attempt to appear like a centrist rather than having thought them out.

    But one of his themes in his appearances is that he tells liberals is that “you don’t have to like gun owners, but you should listen to what they say.” I haven’t read his book yet, but I did see him at the Boulder Book Store earlier this week, and nothing he said was objectionable.

    As somebody who is a lot less conservative/libertarian than he used to be — due to seeing conservative/libertarian ideas at work — “you don’t have to like what Dan says, but listen to him” is good advice for “our” side too, which seems intolerant of any ideological impurity.

    • avatarBill in IL says:

      Why should I listen to someone who wants to take away a fundamental right? Why should I give him any credibility? Why do I keep having to call and write my legislators at all levels over an issue that shouldn’t even be open for discussion? Why do people like Dan keep insisting that we give up pieces of our freedom so they can feel superior? Why, after every time we concede, do they come back and demand more? I am sick of it and I am not going to take it anymore. Not one more inch, the issue of the 2nd Amendment is not open for debate or discussion. It is ridiculous in the extreme to tolerate any “ideological impurity”. That’s what has gotten us to this point, our father’s should have put their collective feet down back in 1968.

      • avatarBruce B. says:

        Preach it brother!

        While commenting on this same idea on another blog I had what struck me as an epiphany. The blogger calling for “reasonable negotiation” with the gun control crowd happened to be female. I wondered what kind of compromise she might find reasonable with a rapist.

        His goal is to violate your rights. Your body. Your dignity. Your serenity. I’m cognizant of the fact that there are those who would allow that terrible violation rather than use deadly force. But not me. I would do my best to stop him AT ANY COST.

        Likewise my freedom, my dignity, my liberty is worth stopping those who would deprive me of them AT ANY COST.Why should I negotiate with someone trying to take that which is mine?

        How about we negotiate with the the fifth estate on equal terms? We’ll only ban the books with ideas we find really scary. And any book that can hold more than 7.pages. And we need a national registry of all journalists and writers. You know, just in case we decide they are dangerous at some point in the future. And we really should require an official government approved class to award your writers permit before you are allowed to publish anything. Obviously, those convicted of a felony, or under treatment for depression, should not be allowed to publish ideas that might be irresponsible. We’ll ban them from ever writing again.

        Why do we worship the first amendment and vilify the second? Everyone knows that ideas have killed more people that bullets ever have. .

      • avatarT. White says:

        Amen brothers.

  8. avatarBill in IL says:

    I will not buy it or read it. I don’t care what some ivory tower dwelling statist thinks about my RIGHT to own the weapon of my choice. He is an enemy and I refuse to put one scrap of food on this person’s dinner table.

  9. avatarBiofire says:

    One of the greatest writers of our time? Really?

  10. avatarDan Baum says:

    What? I’m only the Neville Chamberlain of gun rights? Not the Vidkun Quisling of gun rights? Damn….
    For the record, it’s not that I fail to understand the true meaning of my subject, it’s that I understand it differently from our Fearless Leader, who, I might add, did not drive 15,000 miles around the country talking to gun guys, as I did. In truth, I set out to avoid politics altogether, but that was probably a naive expectation. And after Sandy Hook, impossible. Ah well, we do the best we can with the time and resources we’re given. Got a different point of view on the subject? Write a book.

    • avatarLC Judas says:

      If what you advocate is based around a subjective view of demonizing (at worst) or blaming openly (at best) the gun culture and members thereof in the United States of America then you demonstrate a distinct lack of understanding about what the presence of firearms and those who practice with them are about.

      No amount of hanging around any of the people here makes anyone more likely to go on a killing spree. The character of the end user of any product is suspect but guns being an easier target than the more typical ‘killers’ called alcohol, automobiles and public waterways are why you propose regulations on them and not fast cars, personal pools with no lifeguards and freedom to purchase alcohol without a background check.

      That doesn’t change that far more of the deaths that will occur this year will be related to car accidents, drunken mishaps or mistaken drownings than actual gun violence from the law abiding who would pay the price of your recommendations.

      I do not think you are wrong. I simply find there is not as much to be found in your book if you can blame me, as a part of the gun owning crowd, in any way for tragedies that I would do my damndest to prevent.

    • avataranonymous says:

      > If what you advocate is based around a subjective view of
      > demonizing (at worst) or blaming openly (at best) the gun
      > culture and members thereof in the United States of America

      Have you read the book?

      • avatarLC Judas says:

        No, I have not. I likely will. However, I have read up on the views of the author. If he can blame gun owners by proxy because of the culture around firearms in any way for tragedies recent or current merely because they were perpetrated with firearms and use this view to justify or claim we are setting ourselves up for more regulations, as it appears he does, then I don’t think that’s right.

        At best, I admit to having a haphazardly limited view of him as a person and author but I do not speak to his character or lack thereof. That is neither my place nor perogative. But any book claiming to decode or understand gun guys that ends with asking/advocating/justifying more regulations (or championing this “something must be done about guns” catchphrase) seems to miss the point no matter which way I try to angle my point of view before forming an opinion.

        I don’t venture that my opinion is above reproach in this context. However, I doubt it will change much with the complete reading of the book in question either. I have no qualms with the author but mixing gun control and a supposedly even handed view of gun owners seems flawed in concept. I’ll read it and see if it is in execution but I’m not holding out any hope.

    • avatarAnmut says:

      I don’t need to write a book on guns as I don’t have any problem comprehending the 2nd Amendment.

    • avatarNS says:

      Nice non-response, Dan

    • avatarNazgul says:

      I will withhold judgement until I get the opportunity to read the text. However, the liberal/progressive gun owners never fail to confuse me. Sometimes they even piss me off. Many of the Democrats/Progressives believe in a statist government, and have a general disdain for firearms. Given this, why the hell would anyone vote for a politician that is a threat to their private property and civil liberties? This does not make sense, even if there is commonality with a politician on other issues. As a result, I am skeptical of liberal gun owners. Do they not realize that the laws also apply to them?

    • avatar16V says:

      Though Quisling was a believer, his failure to actually curry measurable favor within his intended “target audience” resulted in his uncerimonious dismissal. Id est, you would actually have to believe and then be shunned to use VALJQ as a valid analog…

      Perhaps you truly are internally conflicted about your positions on gun rights, though that has yet to be reflected in your writings.

      What is reflected is a (standard-issue-well-designed) product. One that can be sold to the same educated, but ignorant, consumer base that has funded the rest of the paycheck. A product that illustrates your ‘mighty hunter’ skillset – delving into the wilds of ‘those crazy gun people’. Then (miraculously!) escaping with some “insight” into how our supposedly broken little minds work. The funny thing is, that most of the hardcore students of history actually know that without exception, government always eventually oversteps.

      The neat thing about understanding the bell curve of “life’s rich pageant” is actually being able to come to grips with the fact that genetics alone will provide us with a never-ending supply of “evil people” in some tiny percentage. The thought that they can be ever eliminated, especially via environment, is the the height of hubris and naivte.

      The thought that somehow taking the guns away from law-abiding citizens will somehow reduce crime is beyond laughable.

    • avatarSilver says:

      I don’t need to write a book to express my views. A few guys two and a half centuries ago did that just fine with the 2nd Amendment. The only thing that’s changed since then is which side of the Atlantic the threat to our lives and liberties are coming from.

      With Americans like you, who need enemies?

    • avatarblakdawg says:

      I realize that you set out to avoid politics – and it seems like a lot of the flak you get from gun owners/advocates about the book is related to the frustration you express in the book about interactions with “gun guys” who emphasize the political side of gun ownership/use/marketing – but in listening to the book (I’m most of the way through it as an audiobook) I find myself thinking, repeatedly, “I wonder what this guy would say now, about the gun guys’ Obama paranoia, after the 2013 gun control efforts?”

      I will admit that I had a certain sentimental hope that you were right – that Obama really wasn’t going to go down the “gun control” road, after that was a disaster for the Democrats (and gun owners, and the nation generally) in the mid-1990′s. I remember seeing the cover of the NRA’s “First Freedom” prior to the 2012 election and thinking “oh, they’re really pushing the Obama = confiscation thing”, perhaps unfairly . . .

      And here we are now, with politicians in NY and CA and God knows where else actually proposing legislation that would confiscate previously legal, semiautomatic guns, held by law-abiding people who had done nothing wrong.

      And we’ve got Joe Biden on TV giving crackpot advice about firing shotguns out of windows at scary noises (which pretty much everyone agrees is criminally irresponsible and monumentally stupid) seeking to gain some “gun guy” credibility while de-legitimizing the utility of semi-auto rifles like the AR-15 for defensive purposes in the hands of citizens. And, hearing that, and watching Obama stand among the Sandy Hook victims’ families (after his comparative inaction after Aurora and the Giffords shootings, where the only real difference I see is whether they occurred before or after Obama’s 2nd term election) . . . Rahm Emanuel’s advice to “never let a crisis go to waste” sits like a rock in my stomach, and I think I should have known this was coming.

      I’m not happy about it, but frankly, I think the more paranoid among the NRA were right, and I was wrong, in thinking that Obama would finish his second term without cranking up the gun control machine. And I think I hear some of that naivete and (now disappointed) hopefulness in your book.

      So I am honestly curious – unless you’d prefer to avoid politics altogether – how the post-Sandy Hook events have changed, if they have, your view of the paranoid gun guys convinced that the Obama administration and the ascendance of Democrats to office portended bad times ahead for gun owners and gun advocates.

  11. avatarensitue says:

    It does not matter how many times this gets re-posted I am NOT giving money to an elitest

  12. avatarMichael B. says:

    Dan Baum’s book: $16.43

    MikeyB9040294209′s comments: free

  13. avatarRab says:

    Dan,

    Apparently driving 1500 miles wasn’t enought for you to understant the concept. Perhaps you should have tried 1501.

  14. avatargloomhound says:

    In the end he is not your friend and we ought not be helping him make money.

    In any case if you want to read a book on guns I understand Massad Ayoob and Jeff Cooper have written a few and I bet you will not feel dumber after reading theirs.

  15. avatarCJ says:

    And there in lies the rub. People who can’t, won’t, or don’t want to deal with the responsibility of self protection and defending liberty assume no one else can, will or do.

    • avataranonymous says:

      > defending liberty

      Please stop with the “gun owners defend liberty” crap.

      • avatarCJ says:

        No!

        But feel free to express your opinion.

        • avatarNazgul says:

          CJ, I don’t have any disagreement with your statement. Defending liberty is often seen in the context of the Revolutionary War of the past. It can also be viewed as voting against those that are a threat to civil liberties. Anonymous is often rude to others without thinking.

  16. avatarDave says:

    It sounds like the book is more about trying to understand the US gun culture than anything else. There was an electronic copy at our public library, which I checked out, so I’ll get to see for myself.

  17. avatarSubZ says:

    I don’t care for the warrior analogy. Warriors can fight for both sides. I prefer sheepdog. His only job is protecting the sheep.

  18. avatarBeninMA says:

    I’ve read every preview for this book I could get my hands on. It seems like Dan’s “navel-gazing” has at least partially misunderstood “gun guys.” In his favor, he’s mostly right on his facts and the narrative is readable and fun. But the book would be a whole lot more entertaining if I didn’t get the sense that every laugh at the expense of a gun guy were helping liberals to decide whether our gun laws should more closely approximate Britain’s or Australia’s.

    It’s a tough subject to write about in this way, particularly from Dan’s perspective — so I at least give him credit for taking it on. I’d probably get more out of his book about the failure of the war on drugs… might have to check that one out. But I still feel like I should read this one, if only for the fact that it’s the book that non-gun people are most likely to read on guns in the next few years.

  19. avatarAaronW says:

    The intro and first chapter expressed the ineffable – for me I’ve never been able to adequately explain the joy and satisfaction I derive from shooting and handling firearms. I also responded to what you did at the Big Sandy AZ shoot – insisting on the full mechanical interaction with the Thompson – I did the same thing at Machine Guns Vegas last year, pressing the staff to bend the rules and let me do the mag changes and work the action.
    Last, did you stop by or attempt to stop by the small range on the Scarsdale/Ardsley border? It’s quite an anomaly in that part of the state…

  20. avatarBob says:

    I only read the excerpts and from that I took away:

    Mr Baum can write, even the small excerpts painted a vivid flowing cinematic picture.

    However, I don’t care for the picture he appears to be painting; as if gun culture is some puzzle to be observed, studied and then solved.

    I would politely request he take a copy of his book and wedge it someplace uncomfortable.

  21. avatarPlumbump says:

    Read it, and learn from it… seems to be a rare glimpse into an unsure anti. Know thy enemy.

    well, perhaps not an anti, but certialy a segement of the citizenry that we must focus on.

    • avatarWerewolf1021 says:

      From my admittedly limited view of Mr. Baum, he seems to be in the same category of Adam Winkler.

  22. avatarFingers says:

    Why not get this book for the anti gunner liberal in the family/friends arena. Try to move them a little towards accepting guns. Then attempt to incrementally show them the light so to speak. Perhaps even inspiring them to go shooting with you. That would be progress. Our agruments fall in deaf ears anyway. I found the book to be interesting in a “know your enemy” kind of way.

  23. avatarg says:

    [Baum ends Gun Guys by agreeing with President Obama’s assessment that there’s something wrong with American culture [that led to Sandy Hook] and echoes the gun grabbers’ sentiment that “something must be done.”]

    If we’re honest, even us, the gun owning community agree that “something must be done”. Where we all differ strongly is the “something.”

    Fixing the problems of modern popular American culture is a complex task that won’t be solved by just passing more gun laws. As a teacher, I find it quite hilarious that the public education system is blamed when so many of children sent to those of us who work at school are:

    -More familiar with a TV or computer then their parents
    -Told that learning is worthless and money is better spent on lotto tickets
    -Buying the latest toy is more important than buying a book
    -Expect to do nothing and learn everything
    -Lack the ability to accept personal responsibility

    and most of all…

    -Focused only on the ME rather than the WE of our community, lacking empathy or the ability to see life from another person’s perspective.

    If Adam Lanza had even had an inkling of that last lesson, no matter what his personal pain or tragedy, he would have never murdered his own mother or the innocent children at Sandy Hook.

    Good luck passing a law mandating parents be adults, and that human beings behave in a rational and compassionate way to each other.

    Sigh.

    That being said, regardless of TTAG giving Dan Baum’s book a “thumbs down”, I’m still interested in reading it. I appreciate TTAG’s coverage of it.

    • avatarMichael B. says:

      If we’re honest, even us, the gun owning community agree that “something must be done”. Where we all differ strongly is the “something.”

      As far as new laws are concerned? Nothing should be done. Rare, bad things that we can’t predict or control are going to happen. School shootings are incredibly rare.

  24. avatarensitue says:

    “you don’t have to like what Dan says, but listen to him” is good advice for “our” side too, which seems intolerant of any ideological impurity.

    So the desire to preserve and live by the Founding Documents is intolerant?
    The Founding Documents are the First and Last Laws of the nation, apparently you don’t beleive that

  25. avatarJohn says:

    I think we’re under-appreciative of the fact that the author is willing to respond to these comments, god knows most wouldn’t.

    As someone who considers themselves a fairly liberal gun owner, I’ve always liked the idea of Dan, but I have not always agreed with him. Now as for what “a fairly liberal gun owner” means, that’s a bit complex. The way I’ve always used the word is as an indication of my support for civil liberties, but more and more as I’ve disagreed with Democrat economic policy, I’ve found the word “libertarian” more useful to describe myself. The views I have that are traditionally “liberal” are support for abortion, gay marriage, and drug legalization. I think those things inform my support for gun rights, as the common themes amongst all of them is a desire for individual choice.

    Quite simply, I prefer the fewest number of things possible that the government can tell me I can and cannot do, especially when those activities do not harm another person.

    On that note, I have not always found myself in total agreement with other people I know who are strong firearms rights believers. I remember one incident when I was buying a gun where the guy behind the counter went on and on about how gay marriage was “against the will of the people” and wrong besides, and it made me feel uncomfortable.

    To that extent, I can sort of identify with the things that Baum describes, moments where you meet people who are interested in your hobby who make you uncomfortable for reasons other than how they pursue that hobby, but I still do not agree with his stance on gun control laws. That said, I don’t understand the level of vitriol that is being thrown at him just for expressing his opinion.

    • avatarTotenglocke says:

      That said, I don’t understand the level of vitriol that is being thrown at him just for expressing his opinion.

      I haven’t seen anything even remotely close to vitriol here. As for “expressing his opinion”? That would be fine if he was just saying “Here’s the gun control laws I think we should pass and this is why I think that”. Instead he wrote a book pretending to be one of us in order to try to con gun owners into supporting gun control and to give gun grabbers a source to point at and say “See! Gun owners support gun control!”.

      I started reading his book last night and I’m about 1/3 of the way through….yes, it’s well written and I applaud his talents as a writer, but every bit of it reeks of his disdain for gun owners and the Second Amendment. He views guns as a fun hobby, not as a means to protect yourself – especially not against an oppressive government and especially not as something we have a right to own.

  26. avatartudor says:

    Does Baum have compromising photos of RF? Is RF getting a cut of the royalties? Are they dating? I don’t get it.

  27. avatarSilver says:

    “Baum ends Gun Guys by agreeing with President Obama’s assessment that there’s something wrong with American culture”

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s called the leftist/progressive ideology.

    I would make a long post, but I’m sick of it. I’m sick of arguing a point that should in no way be up for argument. The 2A is a right, period. If you don’t like it, leave the country or shut the hell up, leave me alone, and go about your pathetic life. How I live my life is not up for you to decide, and if you can’t understand it or fathom it, that’s your issue. Quit trying to change other people because of your own mental and/or emotional immaturity.

  28. avatarjerry says:

    Thats just what Ray Schoenke would say anonymous

  29. Dan I’ve read about half the book and several of your articles. Admire your wit and eriting. But something in the body lanyuage in the video and now your Fearless Leader crack got to the something undefined that was bugging me. You are just to quick to demean someone you dont agree with…and sadly that seems to be the hallmark of the progressive who insists he’s right facts be damned. All that travel and all that listening…and no honest answer about Obama and the anti’s post Sandy Hook? Really?

    • Update. Finished and highly recommend if only as some say to know the mind of a liberal democrat obama guy. For all Dans protestations about not wanting to get political he does. And you can get yur own sense of that and decide if that invalidates the hard work that went into the book. For myself the bibliography and reference to studies alone eorth the price of the book.
      Having said that I am still saddened that Dan doesnt grok some basic failings of the collectivist mindset he seems to hold almost as a religious belief. But I hope he will evolve as do others enamored of the top down statist culture and perhaps in a few years we will read his apologia on that. Best of luck Dan. Thanks for the fine writing.

  30. avatarJ Michael says:

    I read the book and recommend it.

    I was interested to read about the very different experiences, activities, and motivations of other gun owners he met across the country. People I probably would not meet otherwise.

    It’s a story about one guy’s experience going concealed carry. Baum’s experience should help people who don’t carry (or don’t like guns at all) understand why some people do.

    He illustrates why assault weapons bans and magazine bans are absurd. I already understood that, but he explained it in a way that a thoughtful liberal gun control person… might… understand (maybe, hopefully…).

    The book was written before Sandy Hook, so there were moments where Baum wonders why many of the people he talked to were still so angry and defensive… and we see now, of course, they were justified. So asked and (unfortunately) answered.

    But overall I enjoyed the book.

  31. avatarblakdawg says:

    I finished the audio version this morning. I don’t agree with everything that Baum says; but that’s not my test for whether or not a particular work is worth reading/listening to.

    Baum interviewed both Aaron Zelman and Dennis Henigan and his reporting on the history of their respective organizations was new to me, even though I’ve been aware of the people and the organizations for some time now.

    Even if you think of Baum as your enemy, it’s still helpful to understand how your enemy thinks. The messages I’ve seen dismissing Baum and his book out-of-hand as “I already know all of that gun-grabber crap” are significantly underestimating the work.

    Baum clearly isn’t 100% aligned with Aaron Zelman (RIP) and JPFO, nor Henigan and HCI/Brady; he’s in between, though I’d put him more on the gun rights side than the anti-rights side. But what’s more important than classifying him ideologically is using his insights into how liberals view guns, and gun proponents, to find ways to communicate with people who can be reached and educated about guns, and gun rights. Driving Baum and people like Baum away with ridicule or dismissiveness or meanness because he doesn’t start out 100% in our camp is a terrible mistake; while we’re in a good position, today, because of the Heller/McDonald decisions, we all know (or should know) that if the next generation of Supreme Court justices (and/or their clerks) view guns and gun rights the way that the Miller court did, we’re toast.

      • avatarRightontheleftcoast says:

        Update- I found this blogcast, below, with Dan Baum trying to explain things to Joe Nocera at the New York Times- dated April 2013.

        http://www.nytimes.com/video/2013/04/06/opinion/100000002157818/a-gun-guys-argument.html

        You can see the frustration on Dan’s face as he tries to make some very simple and reasonable points to Joe, and they just bounce off…I don’t know how much of that is scripted and edited, but he looks genuinely disappointed the NYT guy isn’t even listening to what he has to say.

        For the time capsule- this comment here and now in TTAG is about a month later, right after the “Benghazi round two, IRS targeting conservatives, and DOJ spying on AP for two months” scandals have erupted.

        If Dan is reading this blog and getting updates on posts,
        (or if Robert happens to see it and can pass it along)
        I wonder if Dan would care to weigh-in now, on his own view on the “state of the union” as a self-described liberal,

        and as a gun-guy, and journalist, just how he feels NOW about the preservation of his constitutional rights- 1A and 2A.

        • avatarRobert Farago says:

          Dan’s got into his head he’s a liberal Democrat. Nothing will shake that view. Nothing.

          But WTH. Let’s call him and find out.

  32. avatarEpunthesis says:

    I paid my admission fee and read the book cover to cover. Baum is a good writer and doesn’t overtly get into politics. You can’t expect a liberal agnostic Obama-guy (his words, not mine) to toe the 2A line, but you can expect a good read from this book. To dismiss it without reading it, would deprive yourself of an expanded world view. I uploaded a full review to YouTube that explains my view of this book a little bit more.

  33. avatarJT says:

    Robert,

    I think it is time to take the “Dan Baum reads TTAG” banner out of the rotation. It isn’t something to be proud of.

  34. avatarDave says:

    Finished the book today. I really liked the cross-section of different types of gun uses and users that he covers, from hunting to machine gun shoots to self-defense classes to Chicago violence to buying a silencer, and so on. Some of the observations and facts covered in the book are definitely worth pondering, among them the demographics of general gun ownership and the more diverse demographics of “black gun” owners.

    He may not be a gun rights die-hard by this forum’s standards, but I don’t see how some people can see him as someone who doesn’t care about bad and pointless gun laws. A recent interview with him that google turned up – http://www.thejewishweek.com/features/new-york-minute/jewish-lefty-gun-guy-oxymoron – seems to support my impression.

    He does seem to have a degree of aversion to the NRA that seems almost visceral. The NRA can indeed be a tad too shrill at times, but one has to ask oneself what kind of gun laws we would have had by now were it not for the NRA.

  35. avatarChris says:

    Robert I really enjoy your blog. I read the book too and it amused me that you wrote 687 words that I would call mostly unflattering and 53 (last paragraph) where you recommended the book.

    I too would recommend it as interesting writing, but was absolutely offended at chapter 9, “Condition Black”. To Quote Dan “if he (Rick Ector) hadn’t had the comfort of a Smith & Wesson M&P’s weight on his hip, he might have been working with his neighbors to better regulate the industries that had stolen his future and to make American society more equitable”.

    Yes, and possibly, if the evil little maggot who put a gun to Rick’s head – In Rick’s own Driveway – had done the same thing, maybe Rick wouldn’t have been so inclined to carry.

    The other part was page 283 “It would comfort the non-gun-owning public to know that all sales are background-checked, and, frankly, it should comfort gun guys as well.” Well lemme tell you Dan, on 9/23/2009 our home in a nice part of Indianapolis was burglarized, the perps broke 2 hammers trying to use a Ball-Joint Separator (car tool) to get my bolted-to-studs gun safe out of my closet. In the end, they used my DeWalt (ding, ding) 18V cordless circular saw.

    There were three guns in that safe. Do you think said perps would have done a background check when they sold them for whatever it is perps need money for?

    Yeah, me neither.

    Sorry, more background checks don’t make me any more comfortable than the thought of making love to Dianne Feinstein with your equipment and Robert here pushin’.

  36. avatarMarshall says:

    I just finished Dan’s book. It was a great read! Like Dan I’m a lifelong “Gun Guy”, but I’m mostly a progressive environmentalist, fiscal conservative and social liberal. One can be all these things! Really. IMHO everyone should be an “Independent”. We all have different values on different issues, but our political system would have you believe that we can be pretty much split between two parties. Both parties represent huge compromises for most of us. It also creates an Us vs. Them dichotomy that is as silly as Dr. Seuss’s “Sneetches”.

    Read Dan’s book before you pass judgement on it. He’s pro-gun and an independent thinker. I’m sure he voted for Obama for the same reason I did, not because he thought he was the best choice, but because he was the lesser of two evils.

    -Marshall

    PS. Great site! Keep up the good work!

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